Beware of Child Predators

There is a new breed of child predator on the loose. You won’t find him featured on America’s Most Wanted or appearing on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Up until now parents who were concerned about child predators could check their state’s Sex Offender Registries or the Child Predator Watch List. But now we can thank Ladies Home Journal magazine for informing parents about this dangerous new predator in an article that appears in the latest issue (February 2007) called “This Man Wants Your Children.” I don’t normally read Ladies Home Journal. In fact, I don’t think I had ever read a single copy until I happened recently to look through the latest issue. Unfortunately, Ladies Home Journal has enlisted in the service of the state. The purpose of its thirteen-page child predator article was not to warn parents about predators at all — it was to promote them. You see, “This Man Wants Your Children” was not about sex offenders — even though some of them are sex offenders — it was about Army recruiters; specifically, Sergeant First Class Chad Christenson, one of the top Army recruiters in the country. Indeed, Sgt. Christenson was the Army’s “Recruiter of the Year” in 2005. We learn a number of things in this article about recruiters and recruiting. The 2005 military recruiting budget was about $4 billion. Since the recruiting numbers were way down in 2005, “the Army added 1,000 new recruiters, doubled the maximum sign-in bonus from $20,000 to $40,000, relaxed standards and raised the maximum-age limit.” Then there was the new $200 million ad campaign for 2006. We are also told that “in 2005 the Army officially investigated 836 allegations of recruiter misconduct.” The Army now accepts lower entrance scores on aptitude tests, grants more “moral waivers” to allow convicted criminals to enlist, and allows non-citizens to gain their citizenship after only one year of active duty. The enlistment age has been raised from 35 to 40 to 42. Older women who want to enlist will find that the physical fitness requirements are now less rigorous — they must now be able to do three push-ups. Oh, and the Army now has a MySpace profile. Thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which mandates that “public high school administrators are required to allow military recruiters access to students or risk losing federal funding,” Christenson preys on high school students. He is stationed in Texas, “the state that contributed more 2005 and 2006 Army enlistees than any other.” He is paid about $64,000 to “show young Texans how the Army can enrich their lives.” I know public high school teachers that make half of that and private high school teachers who make less than half of that. Christenson says the Army changed his life — “It made me who I am.” But who he is? We read in this article about some of the people Christenson persuades to join the Army. One recruit tells him that he wants to serve in the infantry. His reason: “It’s a moral thing with me. After what happened on 9/11, I can’t live with myself if I don’t go to war.” Does Christenson tell the young man that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11? Why not? “We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th,” said Christenson’s commander in chief in answer to a reporter’s question on September 17, 2003, after hundreds of U.S. soldiers had already died for a lie. Another recruit is a forty-one-year-old mother of five. Does Christenson tell her that it would better if she stayed home with her family? Does he tell her about the female U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Iraq? Why not? I have posted their names and pictures here. What else is Christenson not telling young men and women about the U.S. military? Is he telling them that the military does very little to actually defend the country? Is he telling them that the military is not defending our freedoms? Is he telling them that the military is protecting the shores, guarding the borders, and patrolling the coasts of other countries instead of our own? Is he telling them that the military is garrisoning the planet with its military bases? Is he telling them that the war in Iraq has lasted longer than the war against Nazi Germany? Is he telling them that the military has troops in over 150 different regions of the world? Why not? Sgt. Christenson is supposed to be an honest man. We are told in the Ladies Home Journal article that he is “familiar with the dark side of recruiting, of course — the improprieties brought on by the pressure to meet quotas,” but that “he scrupulously avoids the sorts of ethical lapses — such as misleading potential recruits (or their parents) about the chances of going to Iraq — that have tripped up other recruiters.” This means that he doesn’t tell students that the war in Iraq is over in order to get them to enlist — like some Army recruiters did. So why doesn’t he tell young men and women the whole story? I wonder how many people would join the Army if the gentleman in this picture were a recruiter? Since he left his legs in Iraq — or what was left of them — for what will go down in history as the lie of the century, perhaps he would be more inclined to give a little more information to potential recruits than Sgt. Christenson. Instead of talking about the amount of a sign-in bonus, he could talk about the more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers that have been killed in Iraq. Instead of speaking about the free health care that the military provides, he could speak about the hundreds of disabled soldiers who are missing body parts like he is. Instead of discussing the amount of money available from the military for college, he could discuss the costs of the war in Iraq — now over $200 million a day. Instead of mentioning the structure and stability that the military provides, he could mention the tens of thousands — and perhaps hundreds of thousands — of Iraqis who have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq almost four years ago. Instead of conversing about how the military has lowered enlistment standards, he could converse about the evils of an interventionist U.S. foreign policy that sends young men to die for a lie. And instead of informing potential soldiers about the variety of positions available in the military, he could inform them about the animosity that exists between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims that has now erupted — thanks to the United States — into a civil war. Perhaps some disabled soldiers who now realize that they gave their limbs in vain should sue the U.S. military under the Americans with Disabilities Act for the right to be a recruiter. I wonder what employing handicapped soldiers would do for enlistment quotas? Protect your children and the children of everyone you know: Warn them about child predators — and especially those in uniform.